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Our losing war against flab

October 25, 2008
by Globe Editorial Staff
Boston Globe

FOR A HALF CENTURY, the White House has duly noted the bulging of America. President Eisenhower founded a council on fitness and sports after a study described American youth as out of shape compared with European youth. President Kennedy intensified those efforts, writing, "Our growing softness, our increasing lack of physical fitness, is a menace to our security."

In a report this week, the Trust for America's Health urges the next president to issue an executive order declaring health to be a national domestic, economic, and national security priority. In a telephone interview, trust executive director Jeff Levi said the president should support more community programs such as the nationally praised "Shape Up Somerville"; improve school nutrition and add a minimal physical activity component to the No Child Left Behind law; make it easy for farmers markets to accept food stamps and add purchase power to stamps if they are used for healthy foods; and assure low-income families access to obesity counseling.

"We have to take a comprehensive look at the total physical environment," Levi said. "The critical issue is what are we doing to integrate physical fitness so it becomes a lifestyle instead of something forced."

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